By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Catharines has written a pastoral Christmas Letter to parishioners praising “generosity and good will” in parishes and in individuals working to help Syrian refugees find peace and safety here.
Bishop Gerard Bergie writes in the letter that 13 parishes in St. Catharines diocese are involved in refugee initiatives. One of them is St. Kevin’s, Welland, whose Refugee Family Sponsorship Committee met Monday night to review and discuss plans for the sponsorship of a Syrian family.
Bishop Bergie’s letter reminds Catholics that the Holy Family was forced to become refugees, fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod’s plan to kill the infant Jesus.
“Today we still find violence and tyranny that forces innocent people to flee their homes and countries. We see this in the current refugee crisis that is facing Europe and other parts of the world,” Bergie writes.
The bishop’s letter appears on the diocese’s website, but also is circulated to local parishes, an annual Christmas tradition.
Here’s an excerpt: “Jesus is the Prince of Peace and the celebration of his birth is about peace. So it is most appropriate that at Christmas we think of those refugees who are seeking peace in our own country of Canada. In a world of so much bad news we find good news in the world’s response to the Syrian refugees. We see this in our country where so many people are opening their hearts to refugees and providing them a home. Currently in our own diocese there are thirteen parishes sponsoring Syrian refugees. There are also some families and individuals who are helping to sponsor refugees. The generosity and good will is incredible. I am also extremely grateful to those within our diocese who are facilitating the arrival of refugees. As we begin the Year of Mercy this is a beautiful example of putting our faith into action and extending love and mercy to those in misery. Like St. Joseph, we reach out to protect these families by offering them asylum and bringing them peace. These are actions that definitely compliment the Christmas season and help to illustrate its true meaning.”
The letter can be found in its entirety at: http://www.saintcd.com